Amazing Kids! Magazine

Holding onto Momma

By Veronica Sturman, Contributing Writer


Holding onto momma’s fur tightly, we soared through the sky. We were flying in a large paper airplane to the prairie lands in the west. We rode in the triangular fold of the airplane, and I felt very squished. Momma is an experienced chipmunk flyer, but this was my first time.

Suddenly I felt a jerk. Then momma yelled over the wind, “Hold on tight, we’re going down!” She was right. Next thing I knew I felt ourselves swerving downward. We kept going and going and going until all of a sudden – CRASH

“MOMMA! Are you okay?!!” I asked.

“Yeah, but the plane isn’t. Its wing is all crumpled,” she called back. “We’ll have to find another way to fly. For now we’ll just have to walk. Ok?”

“Ok,” I answered.

“Follow me,” she said then walked off and I followed. After about half an hour of walking, a vulture swooped down in front of us. “Wait here,” momma told me, pointing to a hole in the roots of a large tree. She carefully approached the vulture and asked, “How many river pebbles would you charge us to fly us to the prairie lands?”

“I don’t take river pebbles. I only like shiny stones,” the vulture responded in a low, grim voice. “I’ll fly you both for 50 shiny stones.”

“Hmmm. That’s worth about 100 river pebbles,” mom thought aloud. “I’ll be back in twenty minutes.”

She ran a quarter of a mile to the nearest bank, and I followed not too far behind. She exchanged 200 river pebbles for 100 shiny stones and scurried back to the vulture. She snatched 50 shiny stones out of her pocket and dropped them in the vulture’s claw. The vulture lowered his back and said in the same grim voice, “Climb aboard.”

We climbed on, and I clutched a paw-full of feathers. “Hold on tight, my little chipmunk,” mom said, “We’ll be in prairie land soon. When we get to prairie land, you’re going to learn to speak prairie-talk. Won’t that be fun?! Foreign languages are very important, and they help you make new friends. The more people you can talk to, the more friends you can make.”

We flew for four more hours. I watched the landscape change beneath me. I saw fewer and fewer trees and then no trees at all. Then I knew we had left the forest. We had moved from lush, green forest to dry, arid prairie.

After we landed, we went to a prairie dog hotel. In the forest, I lived in trees and logs, but the prairie dog hotel was very different. There were holes in the ground, where we entered. Then we followed a tunnel to our burrow. It was nice and cool down there, I must say, and as comfortable as it was at home.

I got a good night’s rest. Then I got up early in the morning and got ready. Afterwards I went for a morning walk. I went to the park to play a little bit before school. For a while, I was the only one there, but then a little boy and a little girl prairie dog came. I already knew a little bit of prairie-talk, so I went up to say hello.

“Oof-tok,” I said.

“Oof-tok,” the girl said.

“Kier-es kungal?” asked the boy. In my head I translated it as, “Do you want to play?”

“Kon,” I said, which meant, “yes.”

“E nima os Lucy. Lon os le?”  I added, meaning, “My name is Lucy. What is yours?”

Samuel, don jissa os Catherine.” That means, “Samuel, this is Catharine.”

We played for a while, but then I told them I had to go to prairie-talk school but first I bought lots of candy from them. Many of the prairie dog children sold things to tourists to help their families buy food. Catherine sold candy, and Samuel polished claws. He carried a little claw-polish box with him everywhere he went. Catherine said that I had bought all the candy that she needed to sell that day, so they could go to school with me too. They spoke a different dialect, so it was good for them to learn proper prairie-talk too. I was so happy.

School was a lot of fun, especially with Samuel and Catherine. I learned lots of verbs and expressions. Then we got to go to the park and played a fruit game for recess. It was more fun with more players, so I was happy to have them there. After recess we went back to the school and learned more. Samuel and Catherine didn’t normally go to school, because their family was poor. After school, I said goodbye to them. I thought I would never see them again.

When I got back to the hotel, I told mom all about them. I also told her how much I had learned that day. I couldn’t have been happier.

I was very surprised to find Samuel at school the next day. His sister didn’t come. He told me that she had gone to another village to sell things with their dad. I was sad to not see her, but happy to see him. From then on, every day he came without his sister. Samuel spent his mornings at school with me and his afternoons shining claws.

One day, he shined some claws on the way to school and bought chips with the money he earned. He gave me one package of chips and kept one for himself. That was his only lunch, and some days he didn’t even eat lunch. I felt a bit sorry for him, because in the forest where I live everyone has plenty to eat.

After our lessons, we would always go to the park or somewhere else fun. I bought a ball at the market, and the rest of that week, we played with it a lot! One day I brought a ball to give to him. He told me that he’d never had a ball before. He loved his ball.

The last day we made plans to meet him in Central Park, or in prairie-talk “Panin Centula.” I went to Central park and could not find him, but I saw his sister! I was so happy. We went together and found Samuel at the market where he was selling objects to tourists. We all played on the playground in a nearby nut restaurant, so I bought them lots of nuts. I also gave them some nuts to bring to their parents and cousins. I said good goodbye, and then we left.

We had so much fun that day I was sad to leave. Samuel and Catherine were always smiling and happy, even though they didn’t have much money. I think maybe it was because they had such a big, loving family. I hope I will see them again someday.